Portsmouth 1-0 Latics
Saturday 9th September 2006

Last season’s games against Portsmouth told stories all by themselves. The first was all about the unknown full-back bursting his way into the big time, the second a morality tale about passion, application and survival. With no Pascal Chimbonda and with Portsmouth riding a wave of excellent form this game was more about questions. Were Latics still the better side or had Pompey signings from last season gelled to make a stronger unit? Could ‘Appy ‘Arry be sailing the good ship HMS Fratton Park into Europe? Is Eastern European money a guarantee of success?

 

The game turned out to be a direct replica of Newcastle away. Latics more than edged possession and played some tidy stuff, but at the end of the day came away with nothing. The goal came out of nothing with the defence switching off to let Benjani get on the end of Campbell’s header. You could say that it was down to a lack of understanding in the defence, but as the players involved were Boyce and Hall that wouldn’t hold up in court.

At the moment Latics seem to lack a cutting edge, some of the approach play that we’ve seen this season has been excellent but it’s frustrating to see it come to nothing. As Jewell says they can only hide behind pretty football and lots of possession for so long, sooner or later Latics need to start getting points.

Of course it’s too early to panic yet; it may even be too early to worry. After all there are definitely positives out there and we should give them time to come through. The thing is I can’t help it. You can call it second season blues if you like, or blame it on the overly pessimistic nature of Latics fans but I’ve a real fear that this season will go awry.

If we can surrender games that we dominate so easily, what will happen when we struggle to keep possession? If we can’t deal with straight balls at our defence, what will happen when we come up against teams that have a bit more guile about them? Our big selling point last season was our application and desire, I’ve seen precious little of that so far this year.

I suppose the moral of the tale is that there’s a lot of work to be done. I’d like to think that Paul Jewell knows that. I’d also like to think that the “nothing to worry about yet” line to the press is covering up the boot up the arse he’s ready to give the team if they don’t buck themselves up soon.

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